As an I.T consultant, I’ve had the privilege of working in environments ranging between one and one-hundred users.  One of the most often overlooked parts of a companies I.T strategy tends to be in the printing department.

Consider those cheap laser printers for example, like the ones at BestBuy for under $100.  These are great for small teams of people, but when every individual employee in a thirty person office insists on having one on their desk, the cost of consumables can begin to far outweigh the cost of a more expensive central printer.  Lets talk duty-cycles.

Brother DCP-7060d ($100) Lexmark MX310dn ($425)
Toner Cartridge Life 2,600 pages @ $20 10,000 pages @ $200
Drum Unit Life 12,000 pages @ $25 60,000 pages @ $80
Fuser Unit Life 60,000 pages @ $200 200,000 pages @ $200
Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle 10,000 pages 50,000 pages

Without getting too technical on how a laser printer functions, the first three items always need to be in working order.  For example, you can anticipate changing the fuser in the Brother printer every 60,000 pages and every 200,000 pages in the Lexmark for around the same price.  The cheaper Brother printer usually doesn’t have any easy way to replace the rollers the papers travel on, so as soon as those are worn the printer is essentially garbage – unlike a larger printer.

The last item while more of a marketing tool, is how many pages your printer can crank out in a month without premature failure.  I can’t speak for the life expectancy of either of these units, but I have seen a well cared for HP M3035 with a 1,500,000 page count that probably will make the 2 million mark – however that’s an $1,800 printer.

As you can see, less isn’t always more.  Buying one printer for eight people ONCE makes more sense than buying eight printers for everybody every three or four years.  There are however many counter arguments for that point.

But I need to be sure my documents are secure

While this is an advanced feature, I am starting to see “secure printing” on printers under $800.  Secure printing is the ability to send the document to the printer from your workstation and upon arrival at the printer you simply enter a pin code and the printer will print the document.  Secure printing allows you to maintain consistent physical possession of your documents.  This is very common practice in law firms for example.

But all of the documents get mixed up

Many printers can be purchased with “mailboxes”, these are essentially separate output trays that can be assigned to either an individual user, department, or however you want to split them up.  When the user prints a document, it gets sent through the printer and out to their mailbox on the printer negating the need to sort through every bodies print jobs.

I can’t wait for the last persons print to finish

You can expect around thirty-five pages per minute from a modern laser printer.  Unless your co-workers are printing their latest autobiography on company resources, chances are you won’t have to wait too long.  Many of these printers can also print documents while you use the flat bed scanner.

Depending on your print volume, your company may also benefit from managed print services.  With a fully managed print services contract, you simply pay a monthly fee based on the amount of pages you print and the print services company takes care of the lease on the printer and maintains the consumables for you.  There are many variations of service contracts, the one I see most often is the customer purchases their own printer and the print services company keeps it stocked with toner through overnight shipments and comes out occasionally to install other consumables and perform preventative maintenance as part of the contract.

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